Ethiopia signs Italian builder for 1,870-MW Gibe 3

Ethiopia signed a contract July 20 with Italy’s Salini Costruttori SpA to build the 1,870-MW Gibe 3 hydroelectric project in the Omo-Gibe River Basin, 240 kilometers southwest of the Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. (EEPCO) said the 1.39 billion euro (US$1.75 billion) project, billed as one of the biggest in sub-Saharan Africa, is expected to be completed by 2011. Ethiopia hopes to increase local generating capacity and to export the surplus to neighboring countries.

“In the global picture where oil is getting scarce and ever more expensive, hydropower is the white oil of Ethiopia, clean and renewable,” Salini General Manager Claudie Lautixi said at the signing. Once in operation, Lautixi predicted, Gibe 3 would be able to generate 300 million euros (US$383 million) a year in revenue.

Minister of Mines and Energy Alemayehu Tegegenue signed the contract on behalf of Ethiopia.

The construction is being financed jointly by the Ethiopian government, the European Investment Bank, the African Development Bank, and through contractor’s equity, EEPCO said.

Gibe 3 is the third project to be built by Salini in the Omo-Gibe Basin, following 184-MW Gilgel Gibe, which is operating, and 420-MW Gilgel Gibe 2, which is under construction. (HNN 4/24/06)

Apart from Gibe 3, Gilgel Gibe 2, 300-MW Tekeze, and 435-MW Beles are under construction for a combined cost of US$1.4 billion, to be complete by 2010, EEPCO General Manager Mihret Debebe said.

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